Vadim Kovriga, french artist of Russian origin, has lived and worked in France since 2009. The main subject of his work are “non-places” where he captures traces of an enduring present. Born in Ekaterinburg, Vadim grew up in time of “perestroika”. From these years of soviet regime’s dissolution, of fading ideology and a lost generation, of which he became a part, Vadim Kovriga brings the idea that things hide themselves, things run away from our sight. This historical context influenced both Vadim’s personal life and work.
Kovriga first studies law in the Ural Law Academy in Ekaterinburg, to follow his family’s professional path. At the same time he develops a taste for art and image. He soon moves to Moscow to work for Condé Nast as an editorial journalist. He deepens his knowledge of the image, more precisely photography. As he participates in the numerous projects of the editorial house, he meets Nan Goldin, who inspires him to chose the path of a fine art photographer.
His work documents the western society and culture through depicting deserted spaces, scenes that are suspended in an undetermined space and time. Vadim highlights the abstract side of objects.
Today he explores the visual from various angles. He shows interest in fashion iconography, as well as various images transformed by modern technologies. He studies photographs taken by NASA and modifies them in order to create abstract landscapes that we are only able to see through his eye.
For him, Russia is not about a political regime, but a poetic space, common images, landscapes, emotions. He retrieves objects from his history. They are the main part of his photographs, like totems, traces of the past, of his memories. To be a Russian for Vadim is to posses a “Slavic soul”, a form of a painful intensity, nostalgia. Vadim’s relation to the world is not conceptual, but empiric. He watches to understand, to assimilate.
When Vadim arrives to France, he photographs to communicate his thoughts. He searches for images that remind him of his past. He photographs this feeling of a “non-space”. These pictures communicate Vadim’s emotions, they speak of his story. His work is sentimental. He shares his memories emerged through images. He does not manipulate, he witnesses. Vadim’s images are solitary suspended in space and time. They isolate the viewer from the reality and invite them into a world of dreams. Vadim presents deserted spaces, uninhabited sites, forgotten plants, reduced to their decorative function in a hall or on a highway.
He develops a taste for brutalism, coming from a post-soviet industrial city. Brutal architecture is characterized by large volumes, economic materials like concrete, and a direct approach to the notion of “building”. Vadim likes spaces that are not too polished. In his images the isolation takes over, wind blows, skies are covered in grey, curtains are closed. What is far approches us; what is close seems to move away. Landscapes are not attached to a certain place. Objects have lost their purpose (like the series with the old mattresses, left in the street, a public space), human beings are reduced to graphic forms (homeless people photographed by Vadim have become masses of fabric). Everything becomes sculpture. Statues are covered, plants are still.
There is a certain kind of tenderness in Vadim’s vision, that observes humanity try to appropriate spaces that surround it. Beings and objects dissolve in the immensity of the world. In the end, everything disappears with time, or reappears somewhere else. Kovriga speaks about the solitary world that becomes poetry if we stop on our way and observe it.